In fitness terms, progression is where you increase the intensity of your workout. This could be an increase in pace on the treadmill, an extra rep on a set, an increase in weight.
Why do we need to do this?
When you challenge your body to perform a task that it is not usually accustomed to doing (by progressing your workout), you encourage your body to adapt to become stronger or ‘fitter’. Depending on the fitness challenge you are presenting to your body, that adaptation may be that muscles fibres become stronger, or bigger, it maybe that your body becomes better at taking in, distributing and utilising oxygen. Once your body has adapted, the new workout becomes easier – fab!
So what does this mean for my training?
To continue making progress you must continue to progressively overload your body. So, if you are interval training for your cardio, cycle your interval training to avoid plateaus in fat loss. For example:
Short bursts at a high intensity for 20-30 seconds with appropriate rest periods
Short, hard intervals of between 60 sec – 3 min with appropriate rest periods
Longer durations of cardio at a lower intensity for 30+ min
Each of these types of training will challenge different energy systems and it’s not a bad idea to include a bit of each every week to keep your body stimulated. Option 1) and 2) will give you the biggest fat-burning response so stick to these most often. Perform option 3) just once a week to help keep your aerobic system properly conditioned. Let me explain...
Increases your metabolism for 24-48 hours post-exercise due to the stimulation of release of fat-burning hormones such as adrenalin. Include this to help get rid of stubborn pockets of fat.
This is the fastest way to deplete glycogen levels in the muscles. Depleted glycogen levels equals a greater fat-burning response as your body works hard to regain homeostasis. This method has been shown to increase the fat-burning results from the other two methods.
Also known as steady state cardio, this option is seeing a lot of bad press these days. However, this is not surprising when people have, in the past, been basing their entire weekly cardio training on it and thus overdoing it at the expense of their other energy systems. No wonder they stopped making progress! But, like the other energy systems, the aerobic system needs to be challenged and trained if you are to take a holistic approach to training and keep your body on its toes. This weekly session will help improve your body’s ability to store and utilise glycogen (stored energy from carbs and other foods) which improves the efficiency of your body for fat burning, as well as your performance in interval options 1) and 2) above.
Train smart everyone!